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The Portland Tribune
March 22, 2012

Policies plug into electric vehicle future

As highlighted recently by the Jan. 19 Sustainable Life's Green Wheels special section, as well as the Tribune's "Innovative design comes in new Boxx" (Jan. 26) and the Forest Grove News-Times' "Electric Chargers come to Forest Grove"(Feb. 15), the electric vehicle market in Oregon is expanding, bringing with it new innovative industries, job growth and consumer savings.

As environmental and consumer advocacy groups, we are excited about the benefits electric vehicles can create in our state. This is exactly the right direction for Oregon, already a leader in clean technology.

However, we want to highlight some vital points the articles overlooked. The points need to be addressed to ensure that the full environmental and societal benefits of electric vehicles are realized.

Transportation is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon. Plug-in electric vehicles offer an exciting solution. They have no tailpipe emissions, making them cleaner to operate than any conventional vehicle.

The shift toward electric vehicle adoption, though, is just the first step. Here in Oregon, we can encourage the development and use of technology that enables the charging of electric vehicles with 100 percent renewable energy, so they generally can be zero-emissions vehicles and not powered by an energy mix that includes dirty fossil fuels.

This is neither a dream of the future nor very expensive. Existing technology allows the charging of electric vehicles to balance renewable energy generation -- which is good for our electric grid -- at a low cost.

In our state, implementing this "smart charging" technology is crucial. We will not only maintain our nationwide leadership on environmentally friendly innovation, but we will also strengthen our electrical grid.

Smart electric vehicle charging will help the region harness our abundance of renewable resources and keep more wind generation online even when there is as much hydro power as seen in the spring 2011.

This technology also can allow us to maximize energy efficiency, our lowest cost energy resource, which stretches renewable generation farther. Electric vehicles using smart charging technology can be a pro-consumer, cost-effective, environmentally friendly solution to support wind and solar energy integration and advanced grid management.

To make certain Oregon's electric vehicles reap these benefits, a strong foundation of forward-thinking policy and programs must be built now. We need sound policy placing developing technical infrastructure and green power purchasing programs that connect renewable energy with electric vehicle charging at the forefront of our priority list.

Read the entire article from The Portland Tribune at: http://portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=133237288040536900

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